Here at La Crisalida Retreats as part of our yoga retreats we offer a variety of yoga styles across the week, ranging from Hatha, Vinyasa, Kundalini and Yin. In this article, we will explore Kundalini Yoga, which is a combination of spiritual and physical practices. Kundalini yoga is not widely offered in a standard gym or yoga studio, so many people have never experienced a class before. As our focus for this month’s newsletter is expanding horizons, we thought we would explore a style of yoga not well known to many people.
Here, Veronika chats to Raphaela, our Kundalini yoga teacher, and asks her questions about what Kundalini yoga is, what the benefits of practicing are, and how kundalini yoga can change our lives.
1. Could you please explain to us what kundalini yoga is in couple words?
Kundalini yoga is a blend of spiritual and physical practices, which combined will awaken the energy of consciousness.
2. What are the benefits of this practice? Why should we practice kundalini yoga?
The benefits are countless! Kundalini yoga activates the glandular system, strengthens the nervous system, expands the breath capacity, and purifies the bloodstream. Practicing kundalini yoga can bring you strength and the feeling of grace and contentment.
3. What is a kundalini yoga class like and how is it different from a vinyasa or hatha yoga class?
Kundalini is a blend of meditation, dynamic movement, powerful breathing, physical postures, mantras and relaxation. Some hatha or vinyasa yoga styles tend to emphasise the physical aspects of yoga more. Whilst you might find some of the physical positions from hatha yoga in a Kundalini class, you will incorporate mantras and breathing exercises together with these poses as foundational parts of the practice. Maybe, when you first go to a Kundalini class it will seem very different, as there are some asanas or movement that you are unlikely to find in a traditional Hatha class. Mantra singing is part of a Kundalini class and we use sound and mantras as part of our practice.
4. If I am a beginner, what should I expect on and after my first class? Is there anything specific I need to be aware of? Do I need to prepare in any particular way beforehand? What should I wear?
I recommend just to be open to the experience, whatever arises. Never expect anything, only enjoy the beautiful energy. Wear comfortable clothing, and, as we use a very powerful breathing technique I would not recommend to eat right before the class.
5. Can anyone practice kundalini yoga or do you have to have experience in any other yoga types before taking up this style?
Kundalini yoga is for everyone and can be practiced even without any experience in yoga, at any age, including children. As with all yoga styles, or when trying something new, the breathing and movement might take practice.
6. Can you tell us a little bit about how you discovered Kundalini yoga and why you enjoy practicing and teaching it?
One of my first experience with yoga was at Integral Yoga, where they mixed Hatha yoga with Kundalini. I was impressed how Kundalini effected and changed my mind, body and emotions and I decided to delve deeper in this practice.
Now I try to practice every day. The real purpose of this practice on the mat is to learn from it and to apply the learnings there into the daily life with consciousness and gratitude.
7. Kundalini yoga can be a deeply spiritual practice. Why do you think it is becoming increasingly popular now?
I think more and more people are looking for a deeper and more authentic life, and Kundalini yoga can provide us the tools to find that.
8. In Kundalini yoga we talk about practicing kriyas and the awakening of the kundalini energy. What does this mean? What are kriyas?
Kundalini is a Sanskrit word and it means “snake” or “serpent power”. It represents the energy that lies coiled like a snake at the base of the spine. The goal of Kundalini yoga is to unravel that coiled energy and, once awakened, it rises up along the spine through a series of energy centres in the body, called chakras. This experience is said to be very energizing and peaceful.
The word kriya means action. Kundalini yogis combine different aspects of yoga: the specific series of postures, breathing exercises and sound. This combination is called a “kriya” and practicing it can initiate changes on a physical, mental and spiritual level.
9. You mentioned a strong breathing technique – what is this?
The breathing technique we often use in Kundalini yoga is “breath of fire” and this is one of my favourite elements of a class. We breathe through the nose, quite rapidly in and out (same length of breath on the inhale and exhale), for a few minutes. When people first try breath of fire, they might want to do it for one minute only and build up to longer time, as sometimes people can feel a little light headed or dizzy. I suggest that you try this breathing technique first with a teacher who can explain what to do.
Raphaela teaches Kundalini yoga at La Crisalida Retreats once per week. She studied Kundalini Yoga with Ambrosio Martínes and Andrea Märtens and, over the years, Raphaela has trained with many teachers in other yoga styles, including Anusara (which she also teaches at La Crisalida each week). Outside from La Crisalida, Raphaela teaches workshops, offers children’s yoga, mantra and vibrational gong meditation and is a Reiki master.
Want to try something new?
Come to visit La Crisalida Retreats and join Rapahela´s classes to try something new and expand your horizons! To learn more about the other yoga styles that we teach at the retreat read our yoga page and for more information about yoga retreats click here.